Despite a good rest on the flight over, I had no desire to spend last night sitting up in the Turkish CIP Lounge. Here’s how I tried (but ultimately failed) to obtain a visa on arrival and enter Turkey.
First, let’s note the date — this happened on the evening of December 19, 2017. I hope this recent account will be helpful for those who are considering a trip to Turkey or questioning whether the Turkish Republic is as serious about U.S. passports as warned.
After the CIP Lounge 1.) informed me the TAV Transit Hotel was full and 2.) I could not use any of the (empty) sleeping rooms because my layover was now more than 7 hours, I proceeded downstairs to the transit area.
> Read More: Trapped in Istanbul Airport!
The lounge agent asked, “Do you have any other passport or identity card? That’s all you need.”
As it turns out, I do have a German permanent residence ID card (thanks to my German wife), so I thought I was home free.
My Attempt to Secure a Turkish Visa on Arrival with a U.S. Passport
First, I proceeded downstairs to the visa desk, where signs have been updated to show U.S. citizens can no longer obtain visas on arrival. At the desk, I encountered a similar response to JT Genter: I was directed to Passport Control Desk #32 to obtain a small slip of paper verifying that I was permitted to buy a visa, despite my U.S. passport. He apparently was given a slip of paper to stamp. I was told I had to get the slip and the stamps from Desk #32.
I entered the line for Desk #32 and soon made it up to the front.
The agent spoke no English and had no idea what I was talking about. He directed me over to the “Chief Immigration Officer” at a desk off the right.
There, the agent spoke excellent English and examined by passport and German ID card. But when he asked where I was coming from and I said Los Angeles, he handed back both items and shook his head.
“No way. Coming Frankfurt to Istanbul to Los Angeles, no problem. But not if you are coming from the United States.”
He said my German ID card did not matter. He also confirmed that U.S. citizens can still enter Turkey as long as their trip does not start in the USA.
Data Point: U.S. Travelers Transiting from Outside USA Can Still Enter Turkey
There was fear that with U.S. President Donald Trump recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Turkey would further tighten the diplomatic screws.
Perhaps it has in other ways, but my experience suggests that U.S. citizens can still purchase a Turkish visa in Istanbul as long as their trip does not originate in the USA.
There you have it, though. It is still difficult, but not impossible, for U.S. citizens to enter Turkey.
I “lost” last night. I spent the night working. At least according to my internal clock (still on LA time) it felt like a normal workday.